AFTER THE LAST DROP

 H.N. HUNT


:::

If there was a silver lining to getting burned at the stake, it was that she wasn't going to have to face Jack when the love potion wore off

Daphne fidgeted where she was tied to the stake. She and the stake were both positioned on the bed of an old Ford truck, the same truck that the mayor used for all his campaigns and festivals. Was it customary to leave a witch alone and tied to a pole? It was extremely uncomfortable and, she could not stop thinking about Jack.

The love potion had to have worn off by now, she figured. And really, she was just surprised Jack hadn't developed a resistance to the stuff. It happened, more often than you'd think. Potions were just like any drug. Developing an immunity to them was pretty easy. And really, after ten years, she found it impressive that Jack hadn't grown impervious to the stuff.

Daphne squirmed down until she was sitting on the logs below. Her arms were in a slightly awkward position, but she was going to die a fiery death in a few hours so it hardly mattered.

Drugging Jack had started as a revenge ploy. After very publicly rebuking her best friend, Daphne had taken matters into her own hands.

Finding a love potion had been easy. She came from a long line of witches, Afterall. The hard part had been getting the potion to him the first time. The potion lasted a week and after the first dose, she'd found it easy.

The plan had been to drug him for a few months and then break up with him. It had gone beautifully. She'd slipped it into a pudding cup and paid one of Jack's friends to switch the cups.

Jack had fallen for her and everything went according to plan. Except for the part where Jack was an amazing boyfriend. He did everything she asked and after a week she realized she didn't want to let him go. He learned her habits and eventually they became inseparable. They told each other everything. Eventually, she trusted him enough to tell him about her extra abilities.

So, she let a month slide, dutifully dosing him each week. A month turned into two, then six, then a year...before she knew it, high school was over and then college. Then they were looking at apartments. Then Jack was looking at rings. Engagement rings.

As much as it hurt, Daphne knew she was going to have to let Jack go. Or at least stop drugging him. So, after deliberating and putting it off for almost three more months, Daphne stopped drugging her boyfriend. She looked up in resignation as the doors to the barn rattled. But it wasn't the mayor or that psycho Christian chick who'd slapped her across the face with a two by four (her face still hurt, thank you very much, in spite of the healing spell she'd used on it).

Instead, it was Jack.

He slipped in and looked at her. "Hey, babe."

"Jack!" she cried. Oh hell, she was going to have to endure a breakup and then get burned at the stake. This was like some spiteful god had reached down into her life and said, 'See? This is what you get for messing with his heart for ten years, you little trollop.'

But Jack didn't yell, he just took in her situation and grinned. "Babe, why are you tied to a pole and hanging out in the back of a truck? Is that the mayor's campaign wagon?"

"Jack," she began, relief washing over her. "Don't ask stupid questions. Just get up here and untie me!"

"Kay." Dutifully, Jack hopped into the bed of the truck where she sat tied to a large pole. He perched on the stack of logs.

"Were they just going to burn you and the truck together?" He asked. "Seems pretty stupid to me, don’t you think?"

"Jack!"

"How did you get into this situation?" Jack disappeared behind her. After a moment, Daphne felt him fiddling with her bonds.

"Corey from work saw me riding a broom and, well. He put it all together.” The admission still stung.  True to her insanity, Corey the psycho girl had freaked out and runs straight to the mayor. Not one to let an opportunity to campaign slip by, the mayor thought a witch burning would greatly boost his rankings in the polls.

"You ride brooms?" Jack asked.

"You're taking this rather well," Daphne had started growing suspicious. "I can't get this last knot undone," He said, avoiding the question altogether.  

"Cut through it,"

"I didn’t bring a knife. Don't suppose you have a spell to get you out?"

"If I did, don't you think I might have used it before now?" Daphne snapped.

"Good call, babe,” Jack pressed a placating kiss to the corner of her mouth.

"Not to seem rude," Daphne began, but how are you still in love with me?"

"I can’t hear you over the masses clamoring for your execution."

Daphne looked at him, but his attention was directed at the door. She followed his gaze.

"Oh, hell."

Both demented Corey and the mayor stood in the open doorway, gawking.

Before they could recover, Daphne spoke one word and the truck thundered to life. Jack gave a whoop of joy as Daphne spoke another word and the vehicle lurched forward.

"Get behind the wheel," she commanded.

Jack disappeared into the cab of the truck.

A moment later, they swung in a tight circle and charged at Corey and the mayor, forcing them to scatter. In the back, Daphne clung to the stake as the truck burst through the doors.

Daphne focused on untying the last knot in her bonds as they drove.

"Where to, my lady love?" Jack shouted from the cab of the pickup.

She was still thinking about it when she spied a car barreling towards them. Daphne recognized it as Corey’s gas guzzling road beast of a car.

"Our place!" She hollered. Her wand was at their place. She would need it to knock Corey and the mayor out until they came up with a better plan.

"Got it." Jack said.

Jack was a professional stunt driver, something that only seemed useful in movies or when you were late for some event or other and Jack was behind the wheel. Of course, she often feared for her life in such circumstances, but there was a bit of fun in it all and if it got the two of them out of this current pickle, then she swore to never speak ill of it ever again.

"Better take Eastmont,"

"There's a bridge over Eastmont," he shouted.  "We won't make it with your stake, babe. Just leave it to me."

She wasn't sure she liked the sound of that, but she had other things to worry about. Corey had gained ground and Daphne wasn't sure their truck would withstand an impact from the super-car behind them.

Luckily, Daphne's specialty was cars. She said a word and black smoke billowed out from under Corey's hood. Jack took a sharp turn sending Daphne and her stake along the back of the bed. Several logs fell out. Corey dropped back.

There was no doubt that Jack was still under the love spell, which was supposed to wear off in the next couple of hours. Love potions were not an exact science and though she knew that letting him out from under the influence was the right thing, she was going to miss so much about him.

She whispered a word of encouragement to the pickup which wasn't as upset as she expected. Most cars got annoyed when they were stolen but this truck was actually taking it quite nicely.

"Hang on, babe." Jack suddenly hollered.

"To what?" she screamed back but it was too late. Jack gave a whoop and sent the truck into a tailspin. Jack's laughter flowed out of the cab and Daphne found herself joining him, though there was a perceptible note of panic in hers.

She closed her eyes and focused on her spells. She only knew a few by rote and those had to do with cars and motors, which were nice but hardly of much help in getting untied.

"We're here!" Jack announced, and Daphne opened her eyes, surprised. Jack must have really been trucking, Daphne mused. She would have sworn it should have taken longer.

"Jack? I need you to get my wand," she said as soon as the truck stopped.

He appeared in her line of vision and she noticed that she couldn't see Corey’s behemoth.

"You have a wand?"

"You know that silver thing I carry in my purse?”

"Yeah, the one that looks like a radio antenna? What is it? ?"

"That radio antenna is my wand. "

"Cool. Be right back, babe,” He leaned in to kiss her once more before jogging inside to find her wand.

Daphne watched him leave and went back to worrying the final knot on her bonds.

"Oh hell," she muttered as Corey pulled into the driveway.

Corey jumped out of her huge car and stalked over. The mayor stumbled out of the car. He looked a bit green from the chase. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," Corey shrieked. She lunged forward.

Daphne did the only thing she could think to. She kicked the other woman in the face. Corey fell back, her mouth bloody. The other woman sneered at Daphne and started to move forward again only to stop when a bright blue light filled the air. When it cleared, Corey was lying on her face, as was the mayor.

Daphne craned her head around to see Jack standing on their porch, her wand in his hands.

"Damn, babe. This thing really packs a wallop."

"What...how...what?"

Jack trotted over and climbed into the truck bed. He set her wand down and knelt before her.

"Now that I have your undivided attention and you can't leave, I would like to have some answers."

"JACK! What the hell was that?"

"Fine. Let's go back and forth. First, why don't you love me anymore?"

"What?" she repeated. "Why would you think that? "

"Daph, you stopped feeding me love potions. Clearly, you don't want me to love you anymore which means you don't love me."

That was the stupidest logic Daphne had ever heard and she said so.

"C'mon, Daph. If you still wanted me to love you, why did you stop the potions?" Jack asked.

"I stopped feeding you love potions because you wanted to propose," she snapped. "Since you've been under the love potion for ten years, I thought it was time to let you find someone you actually love," she finished much weaker.

Jack laughed and kissed her, first on one side of her mouth then on the other.

"Babe, I've never been under a love potion."

"Yes, you were," she objected.

"No. Daph, my mom was a witch. I may not be as good as you, but Mom taught me how to scent out a love potion. I never ate that pudding cup. And I've been feeding the other ones to various house plants. There are a lot of ferns in love with you."

"But..." she stuttered then stopped, determined to try again. "But you loved me!"

"Well, I figured that you were the one to drug me. I mean, no offense, babe, but in high school, you just screamed 'witch'."

"I did wear a lot of black," she admitted.

"Yeah, you did. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to pretend for a while then dump you. Except...well, I started liking you. Really liking you. And we had a lot in common. So, I thought, it's okay. I like this girl. And then...Well, you get the idea."

"You..." she trailed off.

"Then you stopped drugging me and gave me that horrid potion to banish false feelings. And I had to conclude that you didn't love me."

"But I do!" Daphne said. It hadn’t occurred to her that he would think she no longer loved him all because she stopped giving him the love potions.

"Well, I see that now. Jack said sheepishly, and then he kissed her.

"Um, you can untie me now,"

"Right. We also have to figure what to do with them," Jack said, looking at Corey and the mayor.

Now that she knew Jack loved her, no problem seemed too big to handle. "We'll think of something," Daphne said. “Together.“

:::


We would love to hear from you: share your thoughts below, and don’t forget to check out our WRITER IN CONVERSATION SERIES for interviews from our featured writers.

 
2019 FEBRUARY LOGO 2.jpg

AFTER THE LAST DROP

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

H.N. HUNT was raised on Madeline L. Engles and Tolkien with some Dr. Suess thrown in for variety. By the time she was twelve, she decided she wanted to be a writer for the rest of her life. She has spent the meantime honing her skill and getting the obligatory things like school and a paying job out of the way.

CREDITS
Editor: L. Naisula
Cover art: Shompole, N.L.